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France’s Newen Group Launches $55 Million Investment Fund for British Drama

Variety logo Variety 5/15/2017 Robert Mitchell
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France’s Newen Group has launched a new €50 million ($55 million) investment fund focused on acquiring British drama, the company announced Monday. The “Versailles” producer, which is the leading French TV production and distribution business of European media group TF1, looks to build a strong presence in English-speaking content with the fund.

The new scheme will be operated from a new London office of Newen Distribution, the company’s international distribution business, investing in high-end scripted series from British production companies. Julien Leroux will head up the new London operation as executive vice president of sales and content development.

Newen is looking to partner on three to four scripted series, either returning shows or miniseries, and plans to make “significant investments” to support producers’ projects from early development to deficit funding. Its investment will be supported by the company’s international sales unit in Paris with a strong emphasis on global marketing.

“We believe that it is the perfect time to be proactive in the U.K. offering producers cash at an early stage, rapid decision-making and privileged access to major Continental European markets, as well as our strong worldwide trading relationships,” said Malika Abdellaoui, managing drector of Newen Distribution. “We want to apply Newen’s successful entrepreneurial spirit to the U.K. distribution and co-production market.”

Abdellaoui said Newen was ready to take risks and was open to different kinds of partnerships that could “create a special route between Europe through core territories such as France, giving access to more financing and broadcasters at a very early stage.” He also said that, thanks to the company’s existing production pipeline, it would be able to offer U.K. production partners “far more than just investment.”

Newen has also set up an advisory board to support the launch of the investment fund.

Fabrice Larue, CEO and chairman of Newen Group who will also serve on the advisory board, said the company’s ambition was to establish a global presence, co-producing and co-financing internationally focused, high-quality content.

“The U.K. creative industries are highly attractive, brimming with talent across the production spectrum,” said Larue. “By offering high-quality content from the U.K., our goal is to reinforce our presence in the international market.”

Newen’s previous productions include the English-language historical drama “Versailles” (pictured) and International Emmy Award-winning French-language crime drama “Braquo.” Newen Distribution closed the first-ever sale of a non-English language prime-time drama series to the BBC in 2006 with another crime drama, “Spiral,” which was also the first non-English language series sold to Netflix for the U.S. in 2011. Its recent International Emmy winner “Witnesses” became the best exported French show of 2015, selling to more than 70 countries. Newen recently worked to scoring the commission of Netflix’s second original French production, “Osmosis,” which was announced last week. 

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